“10 Pearls of Leadership” Coming Soon!
Caption: Me Speaking About Donda’s House at one of my Sorority’s Town Hall Meetings earlier this year…
I work a lot… Almost twenty-four hours… and honestly I don’t mind it one bit.
I work so much, because I believe that I am sacrificing now on the front end to make things easier on the back end.
I am contributing to building an organization, Donda’s House Inc., that I want to live well beyond my lifetime.
I attended the gala last year of Lawrence Hall Youth Services, https://www.lawrencehall.org, and they celebrated 149 years of service!
I’ve never seen an organization up close and personal that has been in existence that long, and it inspired me.
It’s also probably why I’ve been itching to get to the pyramids, which are estimated to be around 4,600 years old.
I need to lay my eyes on one of the oldest structures ever built…
I am building something that I hope to last for at least 150 years so my perspective on how I spend my time has shifted drastically.
I know that life is short, and tomorrow is not promised… so I’m working very hard to get this institution that is Donda’s House where it should be.
I apologize in advance for the missed social gatherings, the “gaze” of reflection that I’m often found in, staring into space and the “ding” of my e-mail and text messages during conversations. Outside of family, my work is my #1 priority. I believe that this is what I was put here to do, so I’ve never been more intentional about how I spend my time because every single second, in the fragility of human life, and in consideration of the reach I hope we’ll have, is precious.
It is estimated that it took 20 years to build a pyramid, and my hope is that in 20 years, Donda’s House is as strong, breathtaking and sacred as those pyramids…
Racism is alive and well in America and anyone who says otherwise is either crazy, delusional, or both.
Caption: Sending prayers up for the family, friends and loved ones of the 9 victims murdered in Charleston last night.
I was born and raised in the church. A.M.E. Zion as a little girl, and A.M.E. in High School. Who knows how often I was at bible study, choir rehearsal and worship service over the years.
Church is supposed to be the place where you go to lay your burdens down. It’s supposed to be sacred and safe. My heart aches to think that these nine people, in the midst of doing their father’s business, were violently taken away. They welcomed an outsider, a stranger, with open arms and the TERRORIST used a gun, given to him as a gift by his parents, to execute his white supremacist mission of murdering people for no other reason than the color of their skin.
I’m asking God to help me with this one… Help me to not be bitter. Help me to not hate the individual who perpetrated the crime. Tell me what to do and how to do it, as it relates to combating racism…
In honor of the nine lives that were lost… here are ten ways that we (regardless of race) can combat racism:
(1) Share stories, media pieces and news that combats racists stereotypes.
Racism feeds off of racists stereotypes including black people as lazy, ignorant, violent and sub-human. If you come across a story about a black person that combats those stereotypes, SHARE it via social media, in conversations and in professional settings.
(2) Stop saying that racism no longer exists.
It’s offensive, it’s not true and it perpetuates the problem. Our society is not colorblind and the presence of a Black President does not mean racism just vanished with his election.
(3) Note your own biases and prejudices and intentionally fight against them.
You see a black man walking down the street and you have a thought to grab your purse tighter or walk on the opposite side of the street. Try NOT to clutch your purse tighter, stay on the same side of the street, make eye contact and offer to speak.
(4) Expose yourself, your family and your friends to black history and culture… and not just during Black History Month.
Watch a documentary about Black History, read about an important figure in black history, subscribe to a black publication like Essence or Ebony. If you have children, purchase a book by a black author that features black children. As Black Americans, we don’t have the option to NOT learn about mainstream culture and history. “Opt in” to learn more about the black experience.
(5) Hear all of the facts, before making a decision on a racial event or situation.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss something as an “overreaction” or an “emotional” response before getting the facts. Listen to a variety of perspectives (even those you disagree with) before deciding whether or not something was racist or prejudiced.
(6) Challenge racism when you see it.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out, when you notice a racist act occur. Whether it’s in business, in a professional setting or in your personal life, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, speak up about it. Ask questions to black people you know, who may be able to offer some perspective.
(7) Do something.
Dialogue is the first step. We have to examine the legislation. We have to boycott and call people, companies and media sources out when racism rears it’s hideous head. Not everyone is going to protest in the streets, but you can support the efforts of those who are working on the ground financially and via advocacy.
(8) Help the next generation.
It doesn’t take anything but time to invest in a young person. Take someone who is younger than you under your wing and mentor them. Bonus points if you reach out to someone who is racially or ethnically or socio-economically different from you.
Voting and being civically engaged is one course of action to take. When people commit hate crimes, they have to sit in front of judge. That judge is often selected based on appointment (from someone who was elected) or based on votes. We have to stop allowing others to make decisions for us when it comes to the discrepancies in sentencing, and the manner in which we are arrested, confined and tried. Even if you don’t think it matters, does it hurt to cast a vote?
My list is in no way exhaustive, but it’s just a few ways that you can get engaged if you’re angry, frustrated and desiring of something to do.
Caption: Me at the DH Tent at Made in America in Philly last summer… #ALLDAY
At times I’ve worked multiple jobs (at one point I was a Full Time student and had not one, not two, but THREE jobs).
At one point I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but soon realized that my real calling was teaching and writing.
Every single job I’ve had whether it was standing in the drive-thru at McDonald’s or standing in front of 140 students per day taught me something about myself, about others and about the world.
After finishing up about 5 e-mails to members of our Instructional Team and partners we’re working with on initiatives, it hit me.
For the first time EVER, not only am I totally & completely in love with my “job,” my “job” is totally & completely in love with me!
Now don’t get me wrong… every day is not sunshine and rainbows and glitter. Some days are ROUGH… People take advantage of my kindness… Sometimes doors are slammed in my face – both literally and figuratively… and sometimes the insecurity monsters nibble on the fear that creeps in every now and then.
But those rough days are no comparison to the good days… the days when someone says you’ve said or done something that they’ll always remember… the days when you get to be a fly on a wall and witness creative genius in its purist form… the days when you can close your laptop, your calendar, your notebook with an overwhelming sense of peace, motivation and fullness.
I’ve been at this Executive Director thing for 21 months and this “job” is the joy and the center of my heart.
I thank God for not only answering my prayers, but for empowering me to be a persistent, unwavering and impervious force of change.
I am, about my Father’s business…
Caption: Photo taken by me from the passenger seat, on my way back to Chicago from Indiana.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I need more time…
More time to write. More time to read. More time to look around my mind.
People think that when you become an entrepreneur, you’re going to have more free time, but the reality is the exact opposite.
The more successful your business becomes, the more obsessed and preoccupied you become.
The demand for your presence, your time and your space increases, and the reality is that your world becomes so much smaller.
My one year anniversary as a Full-Time Entrepreneur is quickly approaching and I have to say I’ve learned so much!
The word that keeps floating up to the top is intentionality.
When it comes to time, I’ve learned to try to “let go” of things that were out of my control. When things don’t go as planned, you acknowledge it, write a report about it (to force yourself to find the lesson) and then you move on…
I’ve learned to put out fires immediately because where there’s smoke, nine times out of ten a fuse has been lit that will lead to an explosion. Smell the smoke, water-down the fuse.
I’ve learned to communicate as much as possible on the front end. My goal everyday is to speak clearly and articulately to try to remove any room for miscommunication or misinterpretation. Both miscommunication & misinterpretation are time drainers. Make it clear and make it plain from the very beginning.
I’ve learned to filter the information (and the people) I share my time with. The things people say, the things people do and the energy they carry has a direct impact on everything & everyone surrounding them. If I spend too much time around someone who complains all the time, someone who is not interested in growing or someone who just sends bad vibes, it slows me down & it makes the days longer and the work – the things that must be done – harder.
I’ve learned to communicate my needs quickly and clearly. Whether that’s more time or whether that’s lack of interest on a project. Whether that’s a “yes,” or a “no.” No is complete sentence.
I’m stronger. I’m a better communicator. The “why” has always been clear. But now, I’m more clear on the “what,”. and the “how.” I’m committed to helping to build something that lasts longer than me on this planet. Something that will see the year of 3014 and because of that… I always feel like I’m running out of time…
Caption: me presenting at “Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority’s Inc’s Golden Alert Town Hall Meeting w/ MC Lyte.” Photo by Juan Anthony Images.
In two weeks, I will be joining two of my Echoing Green – Black Male Achievement Fellows, to present at COSEBOC’s (Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color) Annual Conference: A Gathering of Leaders in Memphis. Tennessee. 3 Reasons why I’m super excited about this:
#1. I am super inspired by the work of my co-fellows. William, is the founder of Village of Wisdom. At Village of Wisdom, they work with families to help youth develop the resiliency and self-confidence they need to navigate the academic opportunity gap. Alex, if the founder of The Anew School. The Anew School “takes African-American 7th and 8th grade boys to Ghana, West Africa for a two-year immersive experience, where we provide them a clean academic slate, free from stigmatizing labels such as “at-risk,” “free and reduced lunch,” etc.” When it comes to working with youth, we have to think more in terms of a systemwide approach if we are going to really move the need for black people in America. It’s not a conversation about whether we need to focus more on in-school experiences or out-of-school experiences or access to arts vs. access to athletics. Anyone or any organization that is seeking to improve the lives of black youth of color is doing important work, and the more that we can start collaborating and sharing, the better off our youth and our community will be. Learn more about the other equally inspiring BMA fellows here: http://www.echoinggreen.org/fellows?field_fellow_type_value=Black+Male+Achievement+Fellow.
#2. William. Alex and I are all former classroom teachers – so we understand the importance of what happens in the classroom. We also understand the challenges that educators and administrators face. The skills that I learned as a teacher are incredibly valuable and really translate well into my work as an Executive Director.
#3. Our session is entitled “Ring My Bell: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Leverage Free Resources for Innovation.” We are excited to share what we’ve learned on our social-entrepreneur journey both individually and collectively. Innovation does not always have to cost an arm and a leg! Our interactive session will give those in our session a blueprint for finding and securing free resources.
Register for COSEBOC and learn more about the conference here: http://coseboc.org/annual-gathering. Be sure to say hello if you’re in attendance at the conference & follow the official hashtag; #COSEBOC2015 for conference updates!